What considerations should be made when using conditional processing for localization in DITA maps?

Organizations using conditional processing for localization in DITA maps should carefully consider factors such as content modularity, translator-friendly labels, language-specific formatting, and workflow integration. These considerations ensure that the localization process is efficient and delivers high-quality content tailored to the linguistic and cultural needs of the target audience.

Content Modularity:

When employing conditional processing for localization in DITA maps, it’s crucial to structure content in a modular fashion. Break down the content into smaller reusable components or topics to make it easier for translators to work on specific sections without disrupting the entire document. This modularity enhances content consistency and simplifies the translation process.

Translator-Friendly Labels:

Ensure that conditional attributes and elements are labeled in a way that’s intuitive for translators. Clear and descriptive labels make it easier for translators to understand the purpose of each condition, such as language, region, or audience, and apply the correct translations. This labeling also streamlines communication between content authors and localization teams.

Language-Specific Formatting:

Consider how different languages may require distinct formatting or layout considerations. Some languages read from right to left, have different punctuation rules, or may require text expansion or contraction. Tailor conditional processing to accommodate these language-specific formatting needs, such as adjusting layout templates, font sizes, or margin settings.

Workflow Integration:

Integrate the localization process seamlessly into the content production workflow. This involves coordinating efforts between content authors, translators, and reviewers. Use translation management systems or content management systems that support conditional processing and streamline the exchange of content between teams. An efficient workflow ensures that localized content is produced promptly and maintains quality.


A multinational tech company creates user manuals for its products in various languages. In their DITA map, they have a topic covering safety instructions. To ensure efficient localization, they apply conditional processing as follows:

  <title>User Manual</title>
  <topicref href="introduction.dita"/>
  <topicref href="features.dita"/>
  <topicref href="safety_instructions.dita">
    <props locale="en-US"/>
  <topicref href="safety_instructions.dita">
    <props locale="fr-FR"/>

In this example, they’ve used conditional attributes like “locale” to differentiate content for English (en-US) and French (fr-FR) audiences. The safety instructions topic is modular and contains language-neutral elements, making it easy for translators to work on it. Translator-friendly labels like “en-US” and “fr-FR” clearly indicate the intended languages. They’ve also considered language-specific formatting requirements, such as adjusting the order of elements, fonts, and punctuation, during the localization process. By integrating this into their workflow and using appropriate localization tools, the company ensures that their user manuals effectively communicate safety instructions to users in different languages while maintaining consistency and quality.